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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Sept. 2011

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Sept. 9,  2011

Fisheries Commission Chooses Dates to
Open Pamlico, Core Sounds to Flounder Gill Nets

MOREHEAD CITY

– The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to open the fall flounder gill net fishery in Pamlico Sound Sept. 19 with certain conditions.

The commission also voted to open the fall flounder gill net fishery in southern Core Sound, Back Sound, The Straits and North River Oct. 1.

The Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area will initially open seven days a week under the same regulations and permit requirements as previous years. Under these regulations, the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area must close to all large-mesh gill nets for the remainder of the fall fishing season if the fishery has interactions with three live or two dead Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

However, if there is an interaction with a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel will reduce the fishing days to six. If there is a second interaction with a live Kemp’s ridley, the number of fishing days will be reduced to five. The commission also authorized division Daniel to implement stricter regulations, if needed.

Core Sound, Back Sound, The Straits and North River will open under regulations established by a sea turtle lawsuit settlement. Under this agreement, these waters must close to set large mesh gill nets for the fall season if there is one interaction with either a live or a dead Kemp’s ridley.

By federal rule, all of Pamlico Sound closes to large-mesh gill net fishing from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 each year. The closure began in 1999 after several instances of fishery interactions with threatened and endangered sea turtles. Fishermen typically use large-mesh gill nets to target flounder.

Since 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a highly-monitored, large-mesh gill net fishery during the closure in limited areas of the sound under a series of Incidental Take Permits. These permits, authorized under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act, allow for limited takes of threatened or endangered species in an otherwise lawful activity.

North Carolina’s latest Incidental Take Permit for the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area expired Dec. 31, but the National Marine Fisheries Service recently agreed to allow the fishery for the fall of 2011 while it reviews the state’s application for a new permit to include all gill net fishing in internal coastal waters statewide. In May 2010, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries submitted an application for a statewide Incidental Take Permit to cover set gill nets statewide, including the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area. However, National Marine Fisheries Service review of the application was delayed due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The division was notified Aug. 24 that the application was received and deemed complete. The National Marine Fisheries Service intends to publish a notice of receipt in the Federal Register in the coming weeks. Core Sound, Back Sound, The Straits and North River closed to set large mesh gill nets July 18, in accordance with a lawsuit settlement, after division observers documented several interactions with sea turtles.

North Carolina’s inshore large-mesh gill net fishery has operated under a lawsuit settlement agreement between the state and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center since May 15, 2010. As part of the agreement, the division is observing large-mesh gill net fishing in inshore waters to track interactions with sea turtles.

The fall flounder fishery in the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area is exempt from the lawsuit settlement restrictions and operates under a separate set of regulations.

nr-43-2011 



Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Sept. 9,  2011

Additional Waters Exempted from Stricter Regulations in
Sea Turtle Lawsuit Settlement

MOREHEAD CITY – Gov. Bev Perdue has directed that fishermen setting large-mesh gill nets in portions of Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and portions of the Neuse, Pamlico and Bay rivers, will soon be under the same regulations as they were prior to a sea turtle lawsuit settlement agreement.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries issued proclamations this week to conditionally exempt these waters from stricter regulations that have been in place since May 2010. The new regulations take effect Monday.

This is another example of Perdue’s efforts to ease regulations on businesses and residents in North Carolina to make it easier to get back to work. These less stringent regulations should aid fishermen in their efforts to return to business as usual after Hurricane Irene.

The changes are the result of an agreement between the division, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to modify the lawsuit settlement based on data from Division of Marine Fisheries gill net observer coverage, said division Director Louis Daniel.

“We have more than a year’s worth of data from our observer coverage, and there has not been one record of a commercial fishing-related interaction with a sea turtle in these waters,” Daniel said.

If sea turtles are observed in these newly exempted areas, then the stricter regulations will go back in place for the remainder of the season.

The new exempted areas include waters of Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds north of the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge and the Washington Baum Bridge. Also exempted are waters of the Pamlico River upstream of Currituck Point and Fulford Point, waters of the Bay River upstream of Bay Point and Maw Point, and waters of the Neuse River upstream of a line from Maw Point to the mouth of South River.

All other coastal waters of the state not specifically exempted under the settlement agreement remain under regulations adopted by the Marine Fisheries Commission in May 2010. Those regulations prohibited fishermen from setting gill nets between 4-inches and 6 ½-inches stretched mesh in the daytime and on weekends in most waters of the state. They also prohibit setting nets of more than 15 meshes in height, along with other gear restrictions.

For specific coordinates and regulations, see Proclamations M-27-2011 and M-28-2011 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

nr-42-2011


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Sept. 6,  2011

Public Input Sought on Estuarine Striped Bass, Spotted Seatrout Plans

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will hold six meetings this month for the public to comment on issues impacting estuarine striped bass and spotted seatrout.

The public will receive information and be asked to comment on a draft amendment to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan and on achieving sustainable harvest in the draft N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan.

The meetings will be held in conjunction with Marine Fisheries Commission advisory committee meetings at the following dates, times and locations:

Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.
Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Washington Regional Office
Washington Square Mall, Washington 

Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.
Central Regional Advisory Committee
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Washington Regional Office
Washington Square Mall, Washington

Sept. 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Finfish Advisory Committee
Craven County Agricultural Extension Office
300 Industrial Dr., New Bern   

Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
Southeast Regional Advisory Committee
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Dr., Wilmington

Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.
Inland Regional Advisory Committee
Ground Floor Hearing Room
Archdale Building
512 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh 

Sept. 22 at 6 p.m.
Northeast Advisory Committee
Commissioners Meeting Room
Dare County Administrative Building
954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo


The Estuarine Striped Bass Fisheries Management Plan is a joint plan with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and consists of three management areas. The Albemarle Sound Management Area includes the Albemarle Sound and its tributaries, and Currituck, Roanoke and Croatan Sounds and their tributaries, including Oregon Inlet. Roanoke River Management Area encompasses the Roanoke River and its tributaries including the Middle, Eastmost and Cashie rivers up to the Roanoke Rapids Dam. The Central Southern Management Area includes all other internal coastal waters.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission plans to review this draft amendment at its business meeting this week. Recommendations from the division in the draft amendment to the Striped Bass plan include:

  • Keeping current seasons, area restrictions, harvest limits and size limits for the estuarine striped bass fisheries;
  • Instituting an overage payback provision for the Central Southern Management Area commercial harvest total allowable catch;
  • Continuing to stock striped bass in the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers;
  • Closing the Atlantic Ocean to the recreational harvest of striped bass in the summer.

The Marine Fisheries Commission tentatively approved a draft Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan in May 2010. However, the draft did not meet criteria in a new law passed in June 2010 that requires all fishery management plans to end overfishing within two years of final adoption.

The commission is scheduled to review the revised management options for meeting this new criteria at its meeting this week and vote to send these options out for public comment.

For more information on the draft amendment to the Estuarine Striped Bass Plan, contact division biologists Charlton Godwin at (252) 264-3911 or Charlton.Godwin@ncdenr.gov or Katy West at (252) 946-6481 or Katy.West@ncdenr.gov. For more information on the draft Spotted Seatrout Plan, contact division biologist Chip Collier at (910) 769-7292 or Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov.

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